Pre-Med 101: How to Prepare for Medical School

Published Apr 03, 2010

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Are you considering medical school? Whether you want to be a doctor, a surgeon or an osteopathic physician, these tips can help you maximize your undergrad experience and prepare for the next step in your health care education.

8 Crucial Tips for Pre-Med Students

1. Commit to medical school.

The path to medical school is a tough one, with intense undergraduate classes in math and the sciences, as well as an in-depth application process. There will be days where you consider a less challenging path. Remember your goal - to be a doctor. It will get you through.

2. Make a plan and stick with it.

Virtually every college campus has an advisory center for students interested in medical school - get to know the advisors who work there. Check in each semester and make sure you're taking all the necessary med school prerequisite coursework. Your advisor can be there to help you when times are tough, and celebrate with you when you get that acceptance letter!

3. Diversify your coursework.

You don't need to major in biology, chemistry or physics to get into medical school. These schools are looking for students with diverse backgrounds, so feel free to pursue your passions. The diversity could benefit both you and your future school.

4. Develop good study habits.

You'll need to learn good study habits early and keep practicing them throughout your undergraduate education. If you feel like you don't have them, learn them. Go to all your classes, pay attention in lectures and take careful notes. Develop a good studying routine that allows you to complete homework and still have time for everything else. Find study partners in each of your classes if needed.

5. Ask for help.

There's no shame in seeking support - it's always better to ask for help than to fall behind. Use all available resources, including office hours, tutors and teaching assistants. Many schools also offer study resource centers staffed with tutors where students can get homework help without scheduling an appointment.

6. Get out in the community.

Medical school admission committees want great students, but they also want students who care about the communities in which they live. Volunteer with organizations that allow you to develop some patient-care skills and give back to those in need. Your application portfolio will benefit.

7. Take the MCAT seriously.

You've worked hard through four years of intensive undergraduate study - devote the same amount of energy to this final hurdle before med school. Many people suggest that students commit to at least three months of focused studying before taking the MCAT. If you do best in a classroom, take a prep course. If you are a more independent student, there are great online and book-based review aids.

8. Know what you'll do if you don't get in.

The medical school application process is competitive; you may not get in the first time you apply. Be ready with information about post-baccalaureate programs to bump your GPA and science skills. Think about jobs you can pursue to bolster your application. Don't give up!

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